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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Feb 26, 2014, 01:01 AM

11. My parents fought for civil rights in the early 60's in south GA.

Last edited Wed Feb 26, 2014, 02:02 AM - Edit history (2)

My Daddy was an attorney in a small, college town, and represented the town school board. It was 1963, and schools throughout the south, including my hometown, had been successfully ignoring the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954 which overturned the seperate but equal doctrine of the south. As the school board attorney, my father advised the school system to comply with law and begin the process of integrating their schools. He believed it was the moral and legal thing to do, and they should get on with it. All hell broke loose. My parents became national figures for next 3 years. During that time, there were death threats and scare tactics. The FBI was sent to guard our house and to protect us because the town sheriff surely wasn't gonna do it. Reporters came from all over the country, some lived with us for days at a time. During that time, my mother gave birth to their 5th child. One night, in the cover of darkness, the FBI smuggled my family out of town, and we fled to Atlanta. We left all our possessions behind. They were eventually packaged up for us, and arrived weeks later. I remember my mother sobbing over personal items that had been destroyed or lost in the process. My father found it hard to get work in Atlanta and became very depressed. The strain of it all became too much. I don't remember them arguing or yelling. The marriage just fell apart. They got divorced in 1966.

My mother got custody of all the children and went to work as a real estate agent. From her, I learned about the travails of being a single, working mother with 5 kids, ages ranging from a toddler to a teenager. She taught me about what women must endure in the working world. In 1968, she wanted to buy us a house, and although she was a successful real estate agent, she was unable to do so -- the banks would not make loans to single women without a man co-signing. In 1969, she still managed to buy her first house by assuming a VA loan. In the mid 1970's, she began investing in real estate, and did quite well for herself. She never remarried.

Not long after my parent's divorce, my father married a psychiatrist. She was my stepmother. They had a child, my father's 6th. They had to relocate to New Orleans for a few years, but we visited them over summer, and my Daddy would come to see us sometimes in Atlanta. I remember being confused by it all more than anything (and I missed my Daddy terribly!), but eventually, it became normal.

Each Christmas, we would all get together at my paternal Grandmother's house. My Daddy grew up in a huge family with 8 kids. All of my aunts and uncles and cousins were there, and we were as welcome as we had ever been. They continued to treat my Mama and all of us as family, and showed delight at seeing us. My Daddy and Mama were very cordial, and I watched my Mama and my Stepmother talk about children and being working mothers (in the late 1960's!)

Simply put: they were all amazing role models.

Unfortunately, my Daddy and my stepmama got divorced after 7 years of marriage, but she remained an important figure in my life. My father encouraged all of us to continue our relationship with her, and would call us kids each year to remind us of her birthday. He did this for many years. (She is 89 now, and just came to visit me last month here in NY with my brother and his family.) She never remarried.

About 15 years after his second divorce, my father got married again, and they had a child. His current wife is much younger than he is. I don't call her my stepmother because I already have one; besides, I was a grown woman when they married. They have been married for 27 years now and she is my very good friend. She used to be an editor for a major news magazine, and she is my favorite editor when I write. I love her very much, and she has been wonderful for my Daddy.

All of these women have been amazing role models in my life.

My husband threw a 50th birthday party for me a few years ago, and invited friends and family from all over the US. My Daddy, his wife, my stepmother and my Mama all came (along with all my siblings, except the youngest who was in college). My local friends had a chance to meet my crazy, wonderful, eclectic family. Some people at the party asked me if it was at all uncomfortable to have my Dad and all his wives together under one roof. I laughed. "No. Not at all. That's my family." I don't want to make it sound like it was always charming, because it certainly wasn't. They are, after all, human. But they rose above the drama, and they did it with dignity, and they did it for the children.

Oddly enough, despite the pain and confusion I experienced by my parent's divorce when I was little, I think in many ways, my life has been enriched by divorce.

Thank you for the thread and the opportunity to share my story, H2O Man.

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
H2O Man Feb 2014 OP
hootinholler Feb 2014 #1
one_voice Feb 2014 #2
Samantha Feb 2014 #3
LittleBlue Feb 2014 #6
el_bryanto Feb 2014 #4
rrneck Feb 2014 #5
ms liberty Feb 2014 #7
Sarah Ibarruri Feb 2014 #8
Beringia Feb 2014 #9
ismnotwasm Feb 2014 #10
LineNew Reply My parents fought for civil rights in the early 60's in south GA.
FourScore Feb 2014 #11
LWolf Feb 2014 #12
panader0 Feb 2014 #13
FourScore Feb 2014 #14
FourScore Feb 2014 #15
steve2470 Feb 2014 #16
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